I think it is safe to say by this point that this has been a bummer generation and it seems we’ve reached the high point. The half step of the PS4 Pro (with checkerboard 4k rendering an enhanced feature by this product, though not reviewed on it) and the upcoming Xbox Scorpio show that next gen tech already has a foot in the door and we can safely say the golden years of gaming are behind us. Guerilla Games, the first party German Sony Interactive Entertainment employees famed for developing the cutting edge looks of the Killzone franchise try their hand at a legitimate fully formed AAA new IP this generation and the switch up and freshness is admirable. The score is adoring and with a stellar beginning that ranks alongside such classics as BioShock, Dead Space and the Batman: Arkham series it would seem hard for this target to miss.
After a strong start the second act begins to wobble a bit as the player battles tropes of open world video games: side of the road quests and location collectibles, a map that gets clearer as you progress a tried and true among game players, but Guerilla adds just enough few wrinkles that allows the trip to be worth taking aside from a many few hiccups.
For starters, the core gameplay and User Interface are incredibly clunky. The developer has never been known for intuitive controls and here they pick many choices such as having a left toggle sprint button and a square button crouch (The Battlefield way vs. Call of Duty approach) that made the gameplay feel awkward and exaggerated balance. Enemies are less smart than in past games, occasionally oblivious with their vision cones and don’t always make for very compelling cannon fodder. Instead you have an honest to goodness story that mostly plays from the beginning to a somewhat unsatisfying if possibly sequel friendly ending. Lance Reddick (of TV’s The Wire & Fringe) coming off of turns in Quantum Break and Destiny has figured out how to make his presence work and turns in his best video game performance. As a mysterious strange named enigmatically Silens he maintains an heir of mystery throughout and does not become overexposed. It was a pleasure seeing him on screen as apart from the main character he is the only other compelling character on screen.
What a shame all the good will this game has and its story ambitions that it wastes it on monotonous collections and padding along with a whopper of warmed over final boss encounter that sours the final taste. There isn’t really anything here that feels like it couldn’t have been achieved on PlayStation 3 and for that it feels like wasted potential. However as a value for your money I would say it’s worth $40 look or to put it more metaphorically an morning away from civilization to get away from your immediate responsibilities.
PS4 graphical exclusivity
Lance Reddick performance
Lengthy run time
Warmed over gameplay
Nothing conceptually new
After 6 years in development, Watch the entire playthrough for free: HERE (the entire first act is worth watching alone even without playing. It’s amazing how games are like movies nowadays.)